Eazy Gardening

Golden Beauty: A Complete Guide to Nootka Cypress Care and Cultivation

Plant: Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Aurea’ (Nootka Cypress)

Nootka Cypress, also known as Yellow Cypress, is a beautiful and versatile evergreen tree that is native to the Pacific Northwest. This plant is an excellent addition to any garden, with its stunning golden foliage that is sure to catch anyone’s attention.

In this article, we will discuss the characteristics of the plant, its cultivation and care preferences, potential pest and disease issues, and tips for planting and maintaining it.

Overview of the Plant

Common Names: Nootka Cypress, Yellow Cypress

Vernacular Names: Nootka Grove, Nootka False Cypress, Red Cedar, Alaska Cedar

Description of the Plant:

The Nootka Cypress is a coniferous evergreen tree that can grow up to 50-70 feet tall, with a spread of about 15-25 feet. Its scientific name is Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Aurea,’ and it belongs to the Cupressaceae family.

The plant has a columnar or pyramidal growth habit with a single stem and is usually narrow in width. It has a moderate growth rate and can live up to 800 years.

The Nootka Cypress has a handsome, fragrant foliage that is golden-yellow in color, making it a popular ornamental plant among gardeners. Characteristics, including appearance, blooming habits, and benefits to wildlife:

The Nootka Cypress has a stunning appearance that can add a pop of color to any garden.

It has a bright, yellow foliage that is fan-like and spiky, and the plant’s bark is thin and scaly. The tree does not produce flowers, but it does produce cones that are small, round, and brown in color, which typically grows in fall and winter.

One significant benefit of Nootka Cypress is that it attracts wildlife like deer, rabbits, and birds. The tree’s dense foliage provides a safe haven for a variety of birds, including hummingbirds, robins, and finches.

These birds feed on insects that inhabit the tree, making it an excellent choice for insectivorous birds.

Plant Cultivation and Care

Preferred Growing Conditions:

Nootka Cypress prefers to grow in full sun to partial shade, with consistently moist, well-drained soil. It thrives in cool to mild temperatures and is highly tolerant of salt spray and net infestations.

In terms of soil pH, the Nootka Cypress can thrive in both acidic and alkaline soils, with a preference for moderately acidic soil. Potential Pest and Disease Issues:

One common pest issue with Nootka Cypress is spider mites, which reside under the leaves of the plant and suck juices from it, leaving visible yellow spots on the foliage.

Another potential problem is Cypress Canker disease, which is a fungal infection that attacks the tree’s needles and bark, causing the tree’s death. Proper plant care and maintenance can help prevent these issues.

Planting and Maintenance Tips:

When planting Nootka Cypress, choose a location that is protected from strong winds and receives ample sunlight. The soil should be well-drained, and organic matter can be added to improve soil quality.

Water the tree deeply about once a week during the first year of growth, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between watering. Once established, Nootka Cypress requires less frequent watering.

Prune annually to maintain shape and promote healthy growth, and avoid over-fertilizing the tree. In conclusion, Nootka Cypress is a beautiful and functional ornamental tree that can add color and diversity to any garden.

This plant is relatively easy to care for, and its pest and disease issues can be managed with proper maintenance. By following the planting and maintenance tips outlined in this article, you can ensure that your Nootka Cypress will thrive for years to come and provide a home for a variety of wildlife.

Plant Propagation Methods

Nootka Cypress can be propagated both sexually and asexually, which allows gardeners to expand their plant collections without constantly purchasing from nurseries. Sexual propagation involves the use of seeds, while asexual propagation includes methods such as cuttings, grafting, and layering.

Sexual Reproduction:

The majority of Nootka Cypress trees in the wild reproduce through sexual reproduction. The tree produces small cones that contain seeds.

These cones ripen and fall off the tree when mature. The seeds inside the cones are viable for up to a year and can be collected for propagation.

To collect the seeds, wait until the cones are mature and starting to brown and then collect them before they fall to the ground. Before planting, stratify the seeds in the refrigerator for several weeks to break their dormancy and improve their germination rates.

After stratifying, plant the seeds in a container filled with well-draining soil and moisten the soil. Keep the container in a warm location and water regularly.

Germination takes several weeks to months. Asexual Reproduction:

Asexual propagation of Nootka Cypress trees is more efficient and yields clones that are genetically identical to the parent plant.

This method of propagation includes cutting, layering, and grafting. Cuttings:

This method is widely used in Nootka Cypress propagation.

Take cuttings from the new growth of a healthy plant, using a sharp knife or secateurs. Make a clean cut, then dip the base of the cutting in rooting hormone powder before potting or planting it in a well-draining soil medium.

Keep the cutting in a warm, humid place in bright, indirect light. Water as needed, and you should see roots developing in several weeks.


This method involves encouraging the branch of the parent plant to root while still attached to the plant. Select a branch that is about the thickness of a pencil, and bend it gently to the ground.

Create a small wound on the branch’s underside and cover it with soil. Hold the branch down firmly with a wire bent to form a U-shape.

Water the branch regularly, and you should see roots developing in several months. Once the roots are developed, the branch can be cut and transplanted to a new location.


Grafting is a more advanced technique that involves joining a section of the desired plant to the rootstock of another plant. This method is beneficial when the desired plant does not root easily.

First, select the plant that provides the desired fruit or flowers and take a cutting from it. Then, use a sharp knife to create a clean, diagonal cut on the rootstock plant.

Insert the cutting into the cut in the rootstock and bind the two together with grafting tape. Keep the grafting area moist and warm, and remove the tape once you see new growth.

Plant Adaptations to Different Environments

The Nootka Cypress plant is native to the cool, moist forests of the Pacific Northwest, where it has naturally evolved to adapt to its environment. Over time, the plant has developed a range of adaptations to survive and thrive in various ecological niches, from sandy shorelines to high elevation mountain ranges.

Salt Spray Tolerance:

The Nootka Cypress is highly tolerant of salt spray and can grow in coastal areas where other plants cannot. It has a waxy cuticle on its leaves that helps reduce water loss and prevent damage from salt spray.

Drought Tolerance:

While the Nootka Cypress prefers moist soil conditions, it can also grow in areas with low rainfall. The plant’s shallow roots allow it to take advantage of occasional rain showers, while the plant’s drought-resistant foliage reduces transpiration and water loss.

Temperature Tolerance:

The Nootka Cypress is highly tolerant of cool to mild temperatures. The plant’s stiff needles reduce water loss, which is critical in cold weather when water uptake is limited.

The plant can also withstand light snow and frost. Soil Adaptation:

Nootka Cypress trees can adapt to a range of different soil types, from sandy to clay soils, making them an ideal choice for various landscapes.

The trees can also grow in acidic and alkaline soils, with a preference for moderately acidic soil. In Conclusion, the Nootka Cypress plant is a versatile species with both sexual and asexual propagation methods, allowing for easy propagation and expansion of gardens.

It has a range of adaptations that help it survive and thrive in different environments, including salt spray tolerance, drought tolerance, temperature tolerance, and soil adaptation. Gardeners looking to add a resilient and visually appealing evergreen tree to their garden, should consider the Nootka Cypress.

The Nootka Cypress plant is a beautiful and versatile evergreen tree that can be used in both indoor and outdoor settings. Its stunning golden foliage and adaptable nature make it an excellent choice for different types of landscapes, from small indoor spaces to large outdoor gardens.

Usage of the Plant in Indoor Setting

Nootka cypress can be used to create a natural and soothing atmosphere indoors. Their beautiful golden-yellow foliage and fragrant, earthy scent create a peaceful and calming ambiance that is perfect for bedrooms, living rooms, and offices.

Indoor plants are an effective way to improve air quality and decrease stress levels in indoor spaces. Nootka cypress is known to purify the air by filtering out toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

Their slow growth rate and dwarf-like appearance make them perfect for indoor planting on windowsills, tables, or shelves. When caring for nootka cypress indoors, ensure that they receive enough natural light and humidity.

The plant prefers cool to mild temperatures, so avoid placing them near heating vents, radiators, or air conditioners. Water the plant thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again.

Fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer to promote healthy growth.

Usage of the Plant in Outdoor Setting

Nootka cypress is a beautiful and versatile tree that can be used in different settings to add color and texture to the landscape. You can plant Nootka Cypress as specimen trees and combined with other evergreens to create a windbreak or privacy hedge.

They can also be grown as topiary or bonsai to add visual interest to outdoor spaces. When planting Nootka Cypress outdoors, choose a location that receives full sunlight to partial shade.

Ensure the soil is well-drained and does not retain water. The plant is highly adaptable and can tolerate a range of soil types, from sandy to clay soils.

They also grow well in acidic to slightly alkaline soils. After planting, water the tree deeply and regularly until it is established.

Fertilize once in the spring with a balanced fertilizer to promote healthy growth. When the tree reaches maturity, annual pruning helps maintain appearance and health.

Nootka cypress can be used in coastal landscapes and reduce the impact of salt spray on other garden plants. They tolerate salt spray and are highly resistant to wind damage and net infestations.

In conclusion, Nootka Cypress is a versatile and beautiful evergreen tree that can add color, texture, and beauty to both indoor and outdoor settings. While the indoor and outdoor planting care varies, the plant is highly adaptable and easy to maintain.

Its beautiful golden foliage, fragrance, and air purification properties make it an excellent choice for indoor planting, while its adaptability to different soils and weather conditions makes it an ideal choice for outdoor landscapes. While Nootka Cypress is generally considered to be non-toxic to humans, it can pose a significant risk to pets and horses if ingested.

The plant contains compounds called sesquiterpenes that can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea if consumed.

Pets and horses are known to be particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of Nootka Cypress.

Dogs and cats that consume parts of the plant may experience severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including drooling, retching, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In severe cases, ingestion can lead to dehydration, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Horses that consume the plant can also experience similar symptoms, as well as colic and abdominal distension. To prevent accidental ingestion, it is crucial to keep Nootka Cypress plants out of reach of pets and livestock.

If you suspect that your pet or horse has ingested part of the plant, seek immediate veterinary care. Inducing vomiting is not usually recommended, as it can worsen the symptoms in some cases.

In conclusion, while Nootka Cypress is non-toxic to humans, it can pose a significant risk to pets and horses if ingested. Therefore, it is essential to keep the plant out of reach of pets and livestock to avoid accidental ingestion.

If ingestion does occur, seek immediate veterinary care to prevent or mitigate symptoms. In summary, Nootka Cypress is a stunning and versatile evergreen plant that can add color, texture, and beauty to indoor and outdoor spaces.

Its adaptability and easy maintenance make it an excellent choice for different landscapes, while its toxicity to pets and horses requires proper care to ensure their safety. By following the proper care and safety measures when handling Nootka Cypress, you can enjoy its beauty while protecting your loved ones and pets.


Q: Is Nootka Cypress toxic to humans? A: No, Nootka Cypress is generally considered non-toxic to humans.

Q: Can Nootka Cypress grow in different soils? A: Yes, Nootka Cypress can adapt to a wide range of soil types, from acidic to alkaline soils, sandy to clay soils.

Q: What are the benefits of Nootka Cypress to wildlife? A: Nootka Cypress attracts wildlife such as birds, deer, and rabbits and provides a safe haven for insects that nourish these animals.

Q: Can Nootka Cypress be grown indoors? A: Yes, Nootka Cypress can be grown indoors and create a natural and soothing atmosphere.

Q: What are the potential pest and disease issues for Nootka Cypress? A: Some potential pest issues for Nootka Cypress include spider mites and needle blight, while common diseases are Cypress Canker disease and Phytophthora Root Rot.

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